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Christa

Pinyin conventions - tone changes

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Christa

We got talking yesterday about pinyin conventions and I have a question that's been bugging me.

 

What are the rules regarding writing tone changes?

 

For instance - 晚上 is typically written in pinyin as wǎnshang - at least in Mainland Chinese dictionaries.

 

But why then is something like 可以 written as kěyǐ rather than kéyǐ? Why even when the tone change exists within an individual word is it not written?

 

What's the rule regarding this?

 

 

The sadly pinyin ignorant Christa

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imron
12 minutes ago, Christa said:

The sadly pinyin ignorant Christa

This site will set you straight.

 

Anyway, according to the rules of pinyin, tone sandhi is not indicated on tones so 可以 is kěyǐ.  Note that the neutral tone is not tone sandhi and is considered the correct pronunciation in some places, hence the reason it appears without a tone in those places.

 

7 minutes ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

tone shandi

It might help to spell it correctly 😉 (see the link you provided)

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Christa

Thanks, guys, this is really helpful.

 

Why though, given that 上 as an individual word is fourth tone is the tone change that it undergoes when it becomes part 晚上 not considered tone sandhi?

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roddy

Because it's not reversible. 

 

Current situation, sandhi is not indicated, so you find 可以 as a new word in your textbook, it's given as kěyǐ, and so you know a) 可 is pronounced kě but also (as you know your sandhi rules) b) in *this case* you need to pronounce it ké. Next week when you see the new word 可靠, and you already know 靠, you're good to go. 

 

Hypothetical situation, sandhi is indicated. You find  可以 as a new word in your textbook, it's given as kéyǐ. How do you know what 可 on its own is pronounced as? How would you pronounce 可靠?

 

If pinyin indicated sandhi, you'd need to add extra information in those cases to tell people what the 'real' tone is. 

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Christa

Is it that it only counts as sandhi when it's part of a broader principle of tone change?

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Christa
2 minutes ago, roddy said:

Because it's not reversible. 

 

Current situation, sandhi is not indicated, so you find 可以 as a new word in your textbook, it's given as kěyǐ, and so you know a) 可 is pronounced kě but also (as you know your sandhi rules) b) in *this case* you need to pronounce it ké. Next week when you see the new word 可靠, and you already know 行, you're good to go. 

 

Hypothetical situation, sandhi is indicated. You find  可以 as a new word in your textbook, it's given as kéyǐ. How do you know what 可 on its own is pronounced as? How would you pronounce 可靠?

 

If pinyin indicated sandhi, you'd need to add extra information in those cases to tell people what the 'real' tone is. 

 

But then, shouldn't writing 晚上 as wǎnshang cause the same problem because then people will think that 上 on its own is pronounced shang?

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roddy

Possibly - but with neutral tones there's no other way to deduce it. With two third tones you know exactly what's happening. You can't deduce what syllables will be neutral by looking at the previous syllable. 

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imron
12 minutes ago, Christa said:

the tone change that it undergoes when it becomes part 晚上 not considered tone sandhi? 

Because tone sandhi relates to how the tones change depending on combination with other tones.  The neutral tone in 上 is not because 晚 is third tone, it's just the pronunciation of the word.

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Christa
2 minutes ago, roddy said:

Possibly - but with neutral tones there's no other way to deduce it. With two third tones you know exactly what's happening. You can't deduce what syllables will be neutral by looking at the previous syllable. 

 

Ah, I get it. As there isn't an applicable sandhi rule, it has to be written as it's pronounced. So tone changes that fall outside of any fixed sandhi rule have to be specified but those that fall within sandhi don't.

 

1 minute ago, imron said:

Because tone sandhi relates to how the tones change depending on combination with other tones.  The neutral tone in 上 is not because 晚 is third tone, it's just the pronunciation of the word.

 

This mixes very nicely with what Roddy has said. I now get it.

 

You two are ninjas of Mandarin and I salute you!

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Publius

Tone sandhi is triggered by adjacent phonological environment; it's rule-governed, compulsory, and completely predictable (therefore need not be reflected in spelling). Tone sandhi a kind of tone change, but not any tone change qualifies as tone sandhi.

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